By Susan Crowell / firstname.lastname@example.org
In 1965, President Lyndon Johnson, upon hearing the death of WWII correspondent and pioneering television journalist Edward R. Murrow, said Murrow “dedicated his life as a newsman and as a public official to the unrelenting search for truth.”
And still today, within the field of journalism, Murrow is held up as an example of an independent journalist, determined to uncover truth regardless of repercussions. He was, most notably, a force in fighting U.S. Sen. Joseph McCarthy’s crusade against alleged Communist influence in the 1950s.
The unrelenting search for truth by members of a free press is one of the hallmarks of this nation. Who else keeps the public informed, who shares stories of outrage, courage and hope, who shines a light on injustices, who keeps public and private leaders — from the local school board to the Oval Office — accountable, if there is no scrutiny by a free and independent press?
Today, Aug. 16, 2018, more than 300 media around the United States are publishing editorials that emphasize the importance of a free press — particularly calling out President Donald Trump’s war on journalism.
Mr. Trump is not the first U.S. president to object to or try to influence news coverage, and he won’t be the last. Public officials and the press have always had a love-hate relationship. But the president’s rhetoric and disdain have broadly served to discredit the free press, triggering hate speech and death threats against individual journalists.
And that fury hits those of us in farm media, too.
Read related commentary by Greg Horstmeier, editor-in-chief of DTN/Progressive Farmer.
We don’t care where you fall on the political spectrum. We simply hope that you care about the preservation of a free press and the role we play. We are not “the enemy of the people,” a sentiment that sadly resonated with 29 percent of Americans polled this month.
Even scarier was this: Thirteen percent of those surveyed thought that “President Trump should close down mainstream news outlets, like CNN, The Washington Post and The New York Times.” What’s left? A state-run news bureau?
Yes, the media and individual reporters like me are biased. We work very hard to remain objective and share information from all sides, but subtle biases remain because we’re human. And, yes, there are media who lean one way or the other — Farm and Dairy has never hidden its bias for agriculture, including support for free trade and fewer onerous regulations. There is fair criticism when this bias colors complete information to our readers.
But Farm and Dairy also works hard to present opposing viewpoints, whether in opinion columns or to present opposing sides in a news article. In fact, I remember one phone conversation during the height of Ohio’s livestock care ballot issue when a reader accused Farm and Dairy of being owned by the Humane Society of the United States because we shared their anti-animal agriculture voice in our coverage.
The bottom line is that a free press is an essential part of democracy.
We need information. We need to seek viewpoints that might be different from the ones we currently hold. The media may not tell you what you want to hear, but we always strive to give you information that is accurate and factual. And, trust me, there are plenty of people out there who would give you willful misinformation.
The media are not the enemy of this great country. Neither is President Trump.
Farm and Dairy is committed to earning your respect and your trust — every day — with accuracy, fairness and objectivity. The fundamentals of journalism are more important than ever — freedom of speech is the cornerstone of freedom itself.
Thank you for your support.